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Forty Forward: Celebrating Four Decades of Opera in Pensacola

PERFORMANCES

November 12, 2022 – 6:00 PM

LOCATION

Saenger Theatre

details

In celebration of its 40th Anniversary Season, and through grant support from Pensacola’s Foo Foo Festival, Pensacola Opera proudly presents Forty Forward: Celebrating Four Decades of Opera in Pensacola. On November 12, sixteen thrilling vocalists will take center stage at the historic Saenger Theatre—alongside the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra—to present an unparalleled one-night-only gala concert, honoring the history of musical storytelling in Pensacola and looking forward to the bright future of Pensacola Opera!

Featuring some of the greatest arias, ensembles, and choruses from the operatic repertoire, Forty Forward will also showcase Pensacola’s proud reputation as a true arts community, including collaborations with the Choral Society of Pensacola, the Pensacola Children’s Chorus, and Ballet Pensacola. Video and photo presentations will also look back on some of Pensacola Opera’s most beloved productions and memories.

 

View the Digital Program

Cast and Creatives

Kara Shay Thomson

as Featured Soloist
Soprano

Dramatic soprano Kara Shay Thomson has built an expansive stage career by creating characters that push the limits both musically and dramatically. Ms. Thomson’s major roles include the iconic Puccini heroines Turandot and Tosca. Additional roles include Leonore; Fidelio, Sieglinde; Die Walküre, Santuzza; Cavalleria Rusticana, Donna Anna; Don Giovanni and Magda Sorel; The Consul.

Kara Shay is well known for taking on rarely performed dramatic roles including: The Woman; Erwartung, Cassandre; Les Troyens, Judith; Bluebeard’s Castle, Marta; Tiefland, Agäthe; Der
Freishütz, Vanessa, Zemfira; Aleko, Marietta; Die tote Stadt and Balkis in Odyssey Opera’s live recording of the US premiere of Gounod’s La Reine de Saba.

Company appearances include Lyric Opera of Chicago, Santa Fe Opera, New York City Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Virginia Opera, Utah Opera, Portland Opera,
Atlanta Opera, Dayton Opera, Opera Omaha, Kentucky Opera and Sarasota Opera. Kara Shay first appeared at Pensacola Opera in the role of the Countess; Le nozze di Figaro and returned to sing her signature role of Tosca plus multiple Jukebox Gala performances.

Artist Website >>

Elise Quagliata

as Featured Soloist
mezzo-soprano

Grammy nominated mezzo-soprano ELISE QUAGLIATA has forged a dynamic career over the past twenty years, sought after for the beauty of her voice, her dramatic range and the charismatic hold she has on audiences everywhere. Well-known for shaping roles in new and contemporary opera, she has also been acclaimed for her performance of traditional works.

The artist’s previous seasons featured over 70 performances of Carmen for New York City Opera on tour in Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East; on her return, she sang the role for summer audiences at New York City’s Bryant Park. This past season, her performance of Carmen with Pensacola Opera was one of the first operas to be seen in the country as the pandemic lockdown began to lift. The artist’s Carmen has been widely praised, “Quagliata’s dusky mezzo, dramatic acumen and pulchritude commanded attention” (Opera News).

Performances of new works, recent and upcoming, include an ensemble recording of Luna Pearl Woolf’s Fire and Flood, which earned a 2021 Grammy nomination.  In July of 2022, Ms. Quagliata will premiere and be featured in Kristin Kuster’s A Thousand Acres in the leading role of Ginny.  Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book by Jane Smiley, with a libretto by Mark Campbell, the work has been commissioned by Des Moines Metro Opera to mark their fiftieth anniversary.  In an upcoming season, she will premiere Paolo Prestini’s Edward Tulane, singing Pellegrina and the Older Doll, with Minnesota Opera.

Artist Website >>

 

Adam Diegel

as Featured Soloist
tenor

Adam Diegel made his Metropolitan Opera début as Froh in Robert Lepage’s landmark production of Das Rheingold conducted by Maestro James Levine, and later reprised the performance under Fabio Luisi. Further appearances at The Met include Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly under Plácido Domingo and Ismaele in Nabucco under Paolo Carignani.   This season Mr. Diegel returns to The Metropolitan Opera, and performs with Boston Lyric Opera, Knoxville Opera, Pensacola Opera, and Opera Louisiane.

Other notable recent U.S. engagements include: Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly at Atlanta Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Arizona Opera, Opera San Antonio, and Kentucky Opera; Ismaele in Nabucco at Opera Philadelphia; Cavaradossi in Tosca at Vancouver Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Seattle Opera, and Arizona Opera; Don José in Carmen at Glimmerglass Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Florida Grand Opera, Arizona Opera, and Madison Opera; and Rodolfo in La bohème at Opera Omaha and Minnesota Opera.

Other international appearances include:  Don José in Carmen at English National Opera, San Francisco Opera and at Opera Australia’s Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour; Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with Opera Hong Kong, Lithuanian National Opera, The Savonlinna Opera Festival, and on tour in China at the Guangzhous Opera House among many others.

Artist Website >>

Luis Alejandro Orozco

as Featured Soloist
Baritone

An El Paso Texas native, Mexican-American Baritone Luis Alejandro Orozco has been praised for his “voluminous baritone and beautiful legato.”

Mr. Orozco’s 2022-2023 season begins with Nashville Opera, singing Marcello in La bohème. Additionally, he returns to The Metropolitan Opera as a Flemish Deputy in Don Carlos. Last season included his Metropolitan Opera debut, singing the Prime Minister in their English version of Cendrillon. Last season he also curated and sang in a Hispanic Heritage Concert with Fort Worth Opera, followed by his debut with Virginia Opera as Marcello in a condensed La bohème. He then returned to Opéra de Lyon to remount Maria de Buenos Aires on their mainstage, singing El Payador, joined Intermountain Opera as the Count in Le nozze di Figaro, and appeared with Minnesota Opera in a gala concert.

During the 2020-2021 season, Luis Orozco made his Swiss debut as Riolobo in Florencia en el Amazonas with Theater St. Gallen, performed Escamillo in Carmen with Pensacola Opera, and joined the Nuits de Fourvière Festival to sing El Payador in Maria de Buenos Aires in collaboration with Opéra de Lyon.

Artist Website >>

Bizhou Chang

as Featured Soloist
soprano

Soprano Bizhou Chang is thrilled to return to Pensacola Opera to perform Mimì in La bohème this January. This season, Ms. Chang will return to Guerilla Opera for the concert presentation and theatrical workshop of Emily Koh’s Her: Alive|un|dead, perform as a featured performer in Pensacola Opera’s 40th Year Anniversary Gala Concert Forty Forward with Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, and make her company debuts as Liù in Turandot with Opera Southwest and Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro with Knoxville Opera.

During 2021-2022 season, Ms. Chang made her role debut as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte with Pensacola Opera, performed the role of Maria in the world premiere of Island of Hope, Island of Tears by Gabriele Vanoni with Guerilla Opera, and Violetta in an immersive production of La Traviata with Opera Columbus and Out of the Box Opera.

During the Covid-19 impacted 2020-2021 season, Ms. Chang made her art film debut as Mimì in an innovative film version of La bohème directed by Laine Rettmer with More than Musical (Hong Kong), a co-production of Opera Omaha, Tri Cities Opera, and Opera Columbus, performed Mimì in a new production of La bohème with Opera Columbus, and returned to Pensacola Opera to sing Micaëla in Carmen.

Artist Website >>

Emily Triebold

as Featured Soloist

Mezzo-Soprano Emily Triebold is thrilled to be returning to the Pensacola Opera stage. Native to Wisconsin, Emily has been praised for her acting abilities in both dramatic and comedic roles.
While tenured as an Apprentice Artist with Des Moines Metro Opera, Emily covered the roles of Minskwoman (Flight) and Julia Child (Bon Appétit!) and played the roles Mrs. Splinters (The
Tender Land) and Baroness (Candide). As both a Resident Artist and Mainstage Artist with Pensacola Opera, she was seen in various concerts and performances, covering Hannah After
(As One) and Zerlina (Don Giovanni) and singing the roles of Ines (Il trovatore) and Mrs. Cripps (H.M.S. Pinafore). This past year, Emily sang Giovanna (Rigoletto) with Nashville Opera as a
Mary Ragland Emerging Artist and covered the role of Martha (Sky on Swings) as a Young Artist with Opera Saratoga.

Alexander Scheuermann

as Featured Soloist
Tenor

Praised for his sweet tone and nuanced stagecraft, tenor Alexander Scheuermann has been called “a performer’s performer,” appearing in both theatrical and concert settings across the US and Europe. Recent roles include the cover of Tim Laughlin in Fellow Travelers with Des Moines Metro Opera, Remendado in Carmen with Salt Marsh Opera, Marco in The Gondoliers with Winter Opera St. Louis, and Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance with Opera Tampa. He makes a role and company debut as Fenton in Falstaff with Raylynmor Opera in 2022. Alexander has been a resident artist with Pensacola Opera and Kentucky Opera, and holds degrees in voice from Florida State University and the University of Houston.

Artist Website >>

Justin Hopkins

as Featured Soloist
bass-baritone

Bass-baritone Justin Hopkins is a young performer who enjoys an active career on opera’s national and international stages. As a member of Theater St Gallen (Switzerland), his most recent appearances have included SARASTRO (Magic Flute), TERRY (Breaking the Waves), and GRENVILLE (La Traviata), with guest engagements including his return to De Vlaamse Opera as COLLINE (La Boheme).

During the 2019-20 season, Justin was an ensemble member of Belgium’s Opera Vlaanderen, where he sang LORD KRISHNA, PARSI RUSTOMJI Satyagraha and LE BAILLI Werther.  During the 2020-21 season, he joined the Geneva Opera where his roles included TITUREL Parsifal, GRENVILLE La Traviata and PUBLIO La Clemenza di Tito.   Justin made his debut at the Glimmerglass Festival as JOE in Show Boat and sang DALAND Der Fliegende Holländer with Baltimore Concert Opera. Past engagements have included appearances with Opera Southwest, Opera San Antonio, Fort Worth Opera, Verbier Festival, La Monnaie, Opera Philadelphia, Pensacola Opera, Opera in the Heights, Opera Saratoga, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and Opera Delaware. Active on the concert stage, Justin has appeared with the Los Angeles Master Chorale at Walt Disney Hall, Boston Pops, Philly POPS, Grand Rapids Symphony Pops, Dayton Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Artist Website >>

Sheila Dunn

as Featured Soloist
soprano

Dr. Sheila Dunn earned her Doctor of Music degree in vocal performance from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Since joining UWF in 2007, she has taught applied voice, vocal literature, vocal pedagogy, opera workshop and Women in Popular Music. As part of the UWF Irish Experience study abroad program, she performs and presents masterclasses at the Royal Irish Academy of Music.

Her research areas include living and diverse composers of art song and portrayals of women in music of the Tin Pan Alley era. She maintains an active performing career in opera and as a concert artist and recitalist. Select roles include Kitty Hart (Dead Man Walking), Mabel (Pirates of Penzance), Beth (Little Women), Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro), Costance (Les Dialogues des Carmélites), Blonda (Abduction from the Seraglio), Despina (Cosí fan tutte), and Johanna (Sweeney Todd). In 2019, she performed a solo concert as part of the Les Dimanches Musicaux concert series at The American Cathedral in Paris.

Dr. Dunn served from 2013-2022 as the director of the Dr. Grier Williams School of Music at the University of West Florida. The Williams School of Music was established in 2020 after receiving the largest cash gift from a living donor in the history of the university with a scholarship endowment that is estimated to be in excess of 7.5 million dollars. An additional $1M endowment will allow the school to fulfill its five-year plan and work toward achieving long-term goals. Dr. Dunn is thrilled to return to her faculty role as director of voice, and to enjoy more adventures and laughter with her loving family.

Corey McKern

as Featured Soloist/Emcee
Baritone

Award-winning baritone Corey McKern continuously earns critical acclaim and accolades in every appearance he makes. Of his performance as Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia, critics hailed: “Corey McKern… has all the goods to rise to star stature – timing, stamina, vocal heft and an easy-going stage presence – especially telling in Figaro’s signature aria, ‘Largo al factotum della citta.’” Recent engagements include the role of Older Thompson in Glory Denied with Opera Birmingham and performances as a soloist in Carmina Burana with Missoula Symphony, and Handel’s Messiah with the Alabama Symphony. Other engagements include Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Tallahassee Symphony and a return to the Florentine Opera for a concert of “Opera’s Greatest Hits.” Upcoming, Corey will return to Pensacola Opera as the title role in their production of Don Giovanni.

Of his performance in La bohème, the Santa Fe New Mexican said, “Corey McKern’s resolute, robust-voiced and rambunctious Marcello, a perfect picture of a wannabe Parisian painter, was one of the best I’ve ever heard.” Mr. McKern garners attention at leading opera houses for his charming and dynamic portrayals of his signature roles: Marcello in La bohème in his Asian début at Opera Hong Kong, Santa Fe Opera, Florentine Opera of Milwaukee, Nashville Opera, and Opera Grand Rapids; Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Nashville Opera and Opera Birmingham; the Count in Le nozze di Figaro with Nashville Opera, Opera Cleveland, Opera Columbus, Michigan Opera Theatre, Tulsa Opera, Opera Birmingham, and Syracuse Opera; Gabriel von Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus with Nashville Opera and Florentine Opera; Papageno in Die Zauberflöte with Opera Omaha, Arizona Opera, Opera Birmingham, and Tulsa Opera; as Silvio in Pagliacci with Austin Lyric Opera, Arizona Opera, Opera Birmingham, and Central City Opera.

Peter Lake*

as Featured Soloist
tenor

Praised by the Houston Press for how he “…amazes with a clarion tenor that has the reedy projection of superstar-from-yore Jan Peerce.”  Peter Lake is an internationally performing lyric-tenor who debuted in the world premiere of Michael Ching’s Alice Ryley/Anna Hunter this August at the Savannah VOICE Festival.  In June he performed with the Timberlake Playhouse as Tito Merelli in their production of Lend Me a Tenor.  In the fall of 2021 Peter performed Don José in Mobile Opera’s Carmen and debuted an original cabaret celebrating the music of Mario Lanza with Opera Mississippi.  Other notable roles for Peter include: Rodolfo in La bohème, Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, the Duke in Rigoletto, and Alfredo in La traviata.

Hanan Tarabay

as Featured Soloist
Mezzo-Soprano

After graduating from the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, Hanan attended the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Performance credits for the Curtis Opera Theatre include Alcina (Bradamante), The Rape of Lucretia (Lucretia), Così fan tutte (Dorabella), The Death of Klinghoffer (Austrian Woman), The Consul (Vera Boronel), L’incoronazione di Poppea (La Fortuna) and Le nozze di Figaro (Barbarina), among others. Hanan has also sung roles for Palm Beach Opera (Third Lady in The Magic Flute), Pensacola Opera (Meg in Little Women, Giovanna in Rigoletto and Beggar Woman in Sweeney Todd), Chautauqua Institute Opera Festival (Third Lady in The Magic Flute, Carmen in Carmen, Gianetta in L’elisir d’amore) and roles at the Interlochen Arts Academy. Hanan sang Anita in West Side Story in a gala concert performance with the Opera Orchestra of the Teatro Regio in Turin, Italy. Hanan also sang the mezzo-soprano solo in Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Pensacola Symphony.

She has been presented in concert at the Spoleto Festival dei due Mondi in Italy and in gala performances in the Netherlands and Ireland. In addition she enjoys oratorio and chamber music and has performed a variety of works with the Curtis Chamber Orchestra and the Chautauqua Institute Chamber Group. Hanan has performed the Messiah with many choral societies nationally and internationally among other works. Hanan taught voice lessons at the Chautauqua Institute for three summers. In addition to maintaining a private studio, she also taught at the University of West Florida.

Hayley Abramowitz*

as Featured Soloist
soprano

Hayley Abramowitz, soprano, is dually based in Houston, TX and Washington, DC. They hold degrees from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music (MM ’20, PD ’21) and from the University of Maryland School of Music (BM ’18), where they studied with Carol Vaness and Delores Ziegler respectively.

Hayley spent the 2021-22 season as a chorister with the Houston Grand Opera, performing in Carmen, Dialogues of the Carmelites, Die Zauberflöte, and Turandot. They also presented a recital as part of the Living Arts Concert Series, featuring Mozart’s rarely performed concert aria, Popoli di Tessaglia.

Favorite roles include Romilda (Serse), Nella (Gianni Schicchi), Blumenmädchen (Parsifal), Lucy (The Telephone), and Mme. Herz (Die Schauspieldirektor). A third-place winner in the inaugural Cincinnati SongSLAM, Hayley is also a passionate advocate of new music, having presented numerous premieres in the past several years. Particularly dear is William Kenlon’s Longfellow Mosaic for soprano and Pierrot ensemble.

Artist Website >>

Kayla Nanto*

as Featured Soloist
mezzo-soprano

Mezzo-Soprano Kayla Nanto is an emerging artist based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  She is currently a Studio Artist with Fort Worth Opera, with whom she will sing the role of Flora in La traviata in April 2022.   For the past four years, she has also been a Performing Artist with The Dallas Opera’s Outreach and Education Program.

This season, Kayla was a winner in the Colorado/Wyoming District of The Metropolitan Opera’s Laffont Competition.  She will join Pensacola Opera as an Artist in Residence for their upcoming 2022-2023 season. Some of Kayla’s recent engagements include Second Witch in Dido and Aeneas and Eustazio in Rinaldo with American Baroque Opera Company, Alto soloist in Messiah with Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Frida Kahlo/Mother in the world-premiere of Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World with Fort Worth Opera, Suzuki (cover) in Madama Butterfly with Opera Fort Collins, Ulisse in Achille in Sciro with Orchestra of New Spain, and Edith in Pirates of Penzance with Loveland Opera Theatre.

Kayla holds degrees from University of North Texas (Master of Music) and University of Northern Colorado (Bachelor of Music).

Artist Website >>

Randy Ho*

as Featured Soloist
tenor

Complemented on his “affectionate vibrato” (OperaWire), tenor, Randy Ho is looking forward to joining the team at Pensacola Opera as an Artist in Residence. This season, Mr. Ho will be singing as Parpignol and covering Rodolfo (La bohème), and singing Enoch Snow (Carousel).

Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, Mr. Ho is a recent graduate of the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. Mr. Ho holds a Bachelor of Music and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration concentrating in Marketing from the University of Denver.

Most recently, Mr. Ho will be showcased in Pittsburgh Festival Opera’s scenes program singing excerpts from Faust, La Traviata, and Carmen. Previously, Mr. Ho has been featured as a studio artist at Carnegie Hall’s Song Studio led by world-renowned Soprano Renee Fleming, Peabody Opera Theater productions of La scala di seta (Dorvil), Hin und Zurück(Robert), Postcard from Morocco (Man with old Luggage), Lamont Opera Theater’s production of Il trittico (Rinuiccio), and as a soloist with The National Repertory Orchestra, Denver Opera Collective, and The Denver Spirituals Project.

Scott Lee*

as Featured Soloist
baritone

A native of Statesville, North Carolina, baritone Scott Lee has been praised for his “…substance and velvety bass voice” by the Winston-Salem Journal. In recent years, he has performed with Piedmont Opera, The Princeton Festival, Opera Theater of the Rockies and Magnolia Baroque. In 2020, Lee received the Ron Payne Encouragement Award at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in Charlotte, NC. His most recent engagement was the role of Antonio in Donizetti’s Linda di Chamounix, where “the opportunity to experience a staging of Linda di Chamounix was a rare gift to UNCSA’s audiences, but singing such as Lee’s is still rarer not only in student production but upon all the worlds stages.” (Voix des Arts) Lee received his Bachelor of Music degree and Master of Music degree from UNCSA. In addition to performing, Lee is a seasoned teaching artist, having served as a member of UNCSA’s ArtistCorps. He is a student of Dr. Marylin Taylor.

Cody Martin

as Conductor
conductor

Cody Martin was recently named Music Director at Pensacola Opera, where he has been the Director of Education and Director of the Artists in Residence Program since 2017.  During the 2022-23 season, he leads the company’s first ever production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel, as well as sharing the podium for Forty Forward, a 40th anniversary gala concert. Recent seasons have seen Cody leading productions of Die ZauberflöteDon GiovanniAs OneFlorencia en el AmazonasMan of La Mancha and María de Buenos Aires in Pensacola, as well as making his debut with Fargo-Moorhead Opera conducting Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers. He was on the music staff of Des Moines Metro Opera for three seasons, most recently serving as associate conductor for Rusalka. He previously worked on productions of A Little Night MusicOrphée et Eurydice, and Falstaff in Des Moines. He was on the music staff at Arizona Opera for two seasons, working most recently on productions of RusalkaMadama ButterflyRiders of the Purple Sage (world premiere), and La Cenerentola.  Prior to that, he served on the music staff of the Janiec Opera Company at Brevard Music Center for three seasons, working as an assistant conductor and coach for productions of The Ballad of Baby Doe, Così fan tutte, Rigoletto, Sweeney Todd, Don Giovanni, and Albert Herring.

An avid proponent of new opera, Cody has worked on multiple premieres, including Arizona Opera’s first world premiere, Craig Bohmler’s Riders of the Purple Sage, with a libretto by Steven Mark Kohn; two workshops of The Copper Queen by Clint Borzoni, with a libretto by John de los Santos; a 2014 workshop of Robert Aldridge’s Sister Carrie, and the world premiere of Michael Ching’s Speed Dating Tonight! at Brevard Music Center.

Cody holds degrees from Murray State University and Florida State University.

Artist Website >>

Jerome Shannon

as Conductor

Praised for his “skill and verve” (New York Times), Shannon celebrates nearly 30 years as a professional operatic pianist, vocal coach, conductor and administrator. During this time, Maestro Shannon has held leadership positions with Sarah Caldwell’s Opera Company of Boston (Artistic Administrator, Assistant Conductor, Conductor), Virginia Opera (Artistic Administrator, Associate Artistic Director, Conductor), Pensacola Opera (Music Director and Principal Conductor, Artistic Director), Shreveport Opera (Music Director and Principal Conductor), Mobile Opera (General and Artistic Director, Principal Conductor) and the Janiec Opera Company of the Brevard Music Center (Resident Conductor and Vocal Coach).

* Pensacola Opera debut artist

Production Team

CONDUCTORS | Jerome Shannon & Cody Martin
EMCEE | Corey McKern
CHORUS DIRECTOR | Cody Martin
LIGHTING DESIGNER | Barry Steele
REHEARSAL PIANIST | Nathan Cicero*
TECHNICAL DIRECTOR | Bryan Chapman

* Pensacola Opera debut artist

Ticket Pricing

40thSeasonPricing_dark

Seating Charts

When choosing your seats, keep in mind that this map is only an approximation and not exactly to scale. If you have specific seating needs or require accessible seating, you may contact the Box Office for more information. Please note that the price zones for Forty Forward are different than the regular season.

Numbers indicate price level
No stairs in the Orchestra Level
ADA accessible seating in rows V, BB, and DD
House left is even numbered
House right is odd numbered
Center is consecutively numbered

Numbers indicate price level
ADA accessible seating in the Loges
House left is even numbered
House right is odd numbered
Center is consecutively numbered

Pensacola Opera is proud to present Forty Forward as part of the

2022 Foo Foo Festival, presented by ACE.

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